O's offense was shaky late, but generally good through the 2023 season

The scores of the games will tell us that the Orioles offense had its problems late in the 2023 season. They scored two runs or less seven times in the last 11 regular-season games. They did that twice more in the American League Division Series as they scored three runs total in games one and three.

But if we were to judge this offense over the full season, it likely ends up getting decent or better grades. Unless you consider ranking fourth in the American League and seventh in MLB at 4.98 runs per game not good enough. It was not good enough to be first or the best, but it was better than most. It was well above the AL average of 4.55 runs per game.

The average AL team scored 738 runs this year. The Orioles scored 807. That was seventh-most in team history and the most since the 2004 O's team scored 842.

So, in the best stat to judge offense, they scored well.

The Orioles ranked sixth in the AL in team batting average (.255), tied for seventh in OBP (.321), seventh in slugging (.421) and eighth in OPS (.742).

So how did the team score the fourth-most runs when they were middle of the pack in those stats? And I will add that the Orioles hit 1.13 homers per game this year to rank only ninth-best in the league. Far from a power-laden team.

One area that helped here is batting with runners in scoring position. While sometimes we focus on those games where they went 1-for-11 with RISP, for the entire year the club’s .287 team batting average with RISP led all of MLB. So did the O’s .837 team OPS with RISP. I was surprised to note that seven teams had an .800 or better OPS this year with RISP, but none was better than Baltimore.

Another more hidden way perhaps the O’s offense was productive was the ability to play small ball when needed. The Orioles ranked second in the AL in both sac flies and sac bunts. And they were third in stolen base percentage at 82.6 percent. So, in some key spots when they needed to gain 90 feet, sometimes they did.

The team did a decent job in putting the ball in play too. The Orioles ranked tied for sixth in pitches per plate appearance at 3.92 and its 8.4 walk rate was exactly the league average. While their strikeout rate of 22.4 was better than league average of 23.1 and was fifth-best in the AL. They were the fifth-hardest team to strikeout.

Some fans discount exit velocity but for me hitting the ball hard consistently is a winning formula and one that any productive offense will look to do. The O’s rated fifth in the AL with an average exit velocity of 89.0 mph and not far behind league-leading Texas at 89.5 mph.

And while the O’s lineup did feature four players they could use on a given night that had an .800 or better OPS (counting Aaron Hicks O’s stats only) and seven players at .769 or better, for the year the O’s didn’t have a single batter in the top 14 in AL batter OPS.

They had Gunnar Henderson at No. 15 (.814), Adley Rutschman at No. 18 (.809) and Anthony Santander at No. 23 (.797). By comparison Texas had three players in the top 11. Boston had two of the top seven and Tampa Bay had two of the top eight.

The Orioles offense could be in for a good run the next few years. Some of their young players like Gunnar and Adley, could still improve and trend up further and a vet like Cedric Mullins, who played injured or coming off an injury a lot, saw his stats suffer. 




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